Yeah, we have code that checks for dupes. But that doesn't handle stupid human errors. Those happen, and no code will help that. I logged off last night and didn't read Slashdot until this morning. I scanned the headlines and simply missed that one. It just happens. Sigh.
So anyway, my point of all this- we've discussed internally a new subscriber plum that I think is a really good idea. See, usually we post stories a few minutes before you see them. Sometimes, we post them quite awhile in the future actually. Things like Book Reviews & Interviews aren't time sensitive, so they can even be scheduled days in advance. Silly late night stories can be posted during the afternoon. As I type this, there is a story that will go live in 20 minutes.
So what I was thinking is that we'd allow subscribers to see these stories a little early. This has 2 benefits (1) They can get to the sites before they are crushed by the Slashdot Effect and (2) They could warn us of typos, dupes etc. Thats why they are posted like this. I post a story 20 minutes before it goes live so that Jamie or Hemos or Timothy or someone can read it if they are around. Course Timothy doesn't work this morning, and Hemos is in mtgs. But if we let subscribers see these stories a few minutes early, they would have a chance to warn us.
This isn't taking anything away from users- most Slashdot stories are posted several minutes before they are live on the mainpage. Of course, major breaking news goes live instantly... and that would still be true. All that would chance is that subscribers could theoretically see the normal scheduled stories some amount of time early. I don't know what that window is. 10 minutes? 30 minutes? And of course, these stories would be clearly marked as stories that are under construction, subject to change, or even deletion. Essentially, users would be seeing the activity that occurs to a story in the minutes before it goes live (correcting busted URLs, rescheduling if something more important happens, or even just getting deleted outright. Hey, it happens!)
The other half to this is a little trickier. Discussusions. Should we allow subscribers to post during this window? Certainly there is something to be said for it. Sure, some of them will 'First Post!' and troll, but then they will be modded down... and they will lose karma on a paying account. So a certain level of accountability might just sort of happen. And of course, when the story goes 'Live' there would be dozens of moderators waiting with mod access waiting to slap them down if they were being jerks.
Somewhat related to this is the ability to tell other users you are a subscriber, and to allow users to filter discussions on that data. We've called this internally the 'Gold Star', eg, letting paying users put a gold star next to their name to call attention to themselves. We don't literally mean a graphic necessarily, we just mean adding a setting to allow users to add a bonus (or a penalty!) to subscribers. There are issues with this of course, especially for anonymous users. Logged in users could obviously disable this, and I'm not sure if this is a feature I would enable by default for anonymous users.
Ideas like this of course start to continue to show that the -1..5 range for comments either needs to be revisted, rethought, or simply thrown away. Common user settings might include +1 for a friend of a friend, +1 for karma bonus, and +1 for being a subscriber. So a post from that user might be immediately rated as a 5. I'd like to think that a Score:5 comment has at least a couple of moderators input too, but thats just my preference, and I'd like to make it so how user definable.
So in closing, we'll probably allow Subscribers to see stories a few minutes early in the not so distant future. If you want in, you know what to do.
There are several experiments that I'd like to try. These include subscribers to post during the debugging window. What about moderation during that window? Would allowing it be good or bad? Another experiment is the 'Gold Star' for subscribers. There already is a 'Gold Star' for high karma, so this is quite in keeping with that, and if it leads to better discussion, I'm all for it. And lastly is that pesky problem of the Score:5 comment being easier to attain. I'm not sure if the answer is Score:6 or more. I'd really hate to do that, just because it'll make reading 'Old' Slashdot discussions have a different maximum then 'New' slashdot discussions. Of course, redesigning what a Score:5 comment means may be just as confusing.
Anyhoo, them are just some thought from the gutter. I've got Friends & Friends of Friends posting on again, and of course my email and IRC lines are always open.